Review by Psycho Penguin

"A tagline that doesn't mention fire. Go me."

We all have heard of the NBA Jam series. Even non-basketball fans love the game for the unique style of gameplay it brings to the table. You see, most basketball games are simulations of real NBA action. And that's fine, as there are some incredible basketball games out there that I do recommend playing without a shadow of a doubt. But, once in a while there's always room for a different style of a game. And that's where NBA Jam comes into play.

Featuring fast-paced 2-on-2 action, NBA Jam was the first of several ''different'' kinds of sports games. Shooting and passing is not the key to success in this game. Instead, you will be doing a lot of hacking, stealing, and knocking people over on your quest to get 1 more point than the other guy. Blowouts are infrequent due to the style of gameplay, so be prepared for many close games, but that's just the way I like it!

The 29 teams that were in the NBA at this time are represented here by several players, and you can choose a combination of two players to be on your team. Each team has five different combinations of players, and you can only switch between quarters. During the game, your players will lose energy and stamina, due to the intense nature of the gameplay (lots of shoving will occur), and switching between players is the key to victory.

Of course, this game features the now famous (or is it infamous?) FIRE MODE! If the same player makes more then three shots in a row, he will get ''on fire'', which makes him faster, and allows him to sink pretty much any shot easily. If you get a player on fire, always give him the ball and watch the shots go in almost every time. Of course, if someone else scores, he's not on fire any more, so take advantage of it while you can!

Also, this is a game with no fouls, so it's lots of fun to play, unless your friend finds a certain player on the Indiana Pacers and then keeps cheating with him. However, the longer the same player stays in the game, the less energy he has, and the easier it is to take the ball from him. Use these ideas to really get on your cheating friend's nerves if need be.

And yes, I said friend, because this game is SO much better in multiplayer then single player, especially if you put the cheat codes on. It's fun to play against the computer, but it soon gets old, but with your friends, you will want to play all the time. It is one of the most fun multiplayer games ever, in my opinion. There's nothing like getting you and 3 friends together and hacking the hell out of each other with fouls and shoves and all sorts of crazy stuff. Plus, you can check stats at the end of each half to see who gets utlimate bragging rights.

Also, I love how the game has a stats tracking system. Enter your initials before the game, and it pulls up your win-loss record and how many of the 29 NBA teams you defeated. It's the little things that count, sometimes. I love improving my win-loss record and bragging to my friends about how much better mine is then theirs.

The game is also easy to control. Because of the fact there is only two players on the team, you won't have to worry about passing it to the wrong player. This is the one thing thing I disliked most about basketball games on Genesis, the inability to make sure your passes would always get received by the player you wanted to receive them. Fortunately, due to the style of this game, it's easy to pass, and shooting is no problem, too. I had no problem at all with the controls.

The game looks just awesome. The players don't exactly have the most detail to them, but at least you can tell the difference between them, due to the fact they *gasp* all have different sizes. Plus, the court is well animated, with the screaming crowd and the whole design of the court. There was never any slowdown, and the whole game just seems polished, fresh, and up to date, which is amazing for an early Genesis title (not saying they look like crap.. well they do, actually, but I'm not saying that!)

The music before the games itself is solid, but nothing particuarly catchy or memorable. We all remember the classic voice in this game, though. From ''He's on fire!'' to ''He's heating up!'', the voice will never irritate you and you will always love to hear the stuff he says next. He doesn't talk too much, so you know that when he talks, it's important. Sort of like me. ;)

The game has tons of replay value, especially in multiplayer. The single player mode can get kind of boring, especially once you defeat all 29 teams. I do like to pump up my win-loss record from time to time, though, so that's always fun. But mutliplayer NBA Jam is totally replayable, and you and your friends will have a blast with it. I know people that despise basketball and refuse to watch it that love this game and will play it. It's not the typical basketball game, and I think that's what attracts many people to it.

The game is actually a lot more challenging than most basketball games are. For one, the computer will cheat a lot, and will always seem to hit 3's and steal the ball when they have to. Plus, the game always wants to keep it close for some reason. It's like Blitz.. no matter how good you play, you'll never blow the team out. Unless you play on multiplayer, of course.

So, there you have it. It's not a terribly great single player game. It's actually just a smidge above decent. It's a terrific multiplayer game, though, and one I advise purchasing, especially now that it costs so little and is so easy to find. Plus, it is certainly a lot better than the crummy NBA Showtime. It's not as good as NBA Street, but if you ever need to feel a little nostalgis and kick it old school style, there's no finer choice than NBA Jam for the Genesis.

Now, I'm out, before I catch on fire.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 06/22/03, Updated 06/22/03

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